Sand Mining

After water, sand is the most widely used natural resource.

Sand is mined, smuggled, and stolen, and the impacts of this have far-reaching socio-political, economic and environmental implications, accelerating coastal erosion, and destroying ecosystems that are relied upon by coastal communities for their very existence.

February 14, 2023

Sand Mining on Terekhol River, Cargao, India, Goa (by Ivan Komarov, CC BY-NC 2.0 DEED, via Flickr).

2022 Six Part Series on “Sand Dealers” – Le Monde

Published in 2022, links to Le Monde’s Series on Sand are provided here:


India’s ‘sand mafias have power, money and weapons
By  (Patna, Noida, and Mumbai (India), special correspondent) and  (Photos)


Sand is both a blessing and a curse for the Maldives
By  and 


Greenland realizes the untapped potential of sand
By  (Kangerlussuaq, Narsaq and Nuuk, special correspondent) and 


Miami’s legendary beaches are running out of sand
By  and 


Cape Verde’s illicit sand looters
By  and 


Paris: An insatiable appetite for sand
By  and 

More on Sand Mining . . .

Mining is removing sand from coastal sites, such as this one in Colombia, faster than natural processes can replenish it (photo © Nelson Rangel-Buitrago)

The Unsustainable Harvest of Coastal Sands – Science

Although coasts form a crucial part of the natural wealth of the planet, their conservation is increasingly jeopardized owing to the growing human footprint. With 50% of the world’s population living within 150 km of a coastline, increasing urbanization and population pressures are threatening these fragile ecosystems…

Dredging activities on the Langwarder Wheels, Netherlands (by Dominicus Johannes Bergsma CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia).

6 billion tonnes of sand taken annually from oceans, causing irreparable damage to benthic life – Down to Earth

Some six billion tonnes of sand is being extracted annually from the floor of the world’s oceans, causing irreparable damage to benthic life, according to a new global data platform on sand and other sediment extraction in the marine environment.
The new data platform, Marine Sand Watch, has been developed by GRID-Geneva, a Centre for Analytics within the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). It is available at:…

Part of the Virginia Beach Hurricane Protection Beach Re-nourishment Project, a hopper dredges sits off the Virginia Beach oceanfront pumping sand from the ocean floor to a pump-out landing station where the material is piped onshore (by Pamela Spaugy, Army Corps of Engineers CC BY 2.0 via Flickr).

Sand mining is a huge problem, a new global map shows – the Verge

People are dredging an alarming amount of sand from the seafloor, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warned today. An average of 6 billion tons of sand are taken from marine environments every year, according to a new global data platform from UNEP….

Panoramic view of Pari Island taken from the east side (by Lucky Christiawan, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia).

Indonesian fishermen, activists fear loss of marine life, islands as sea-sand exports resume – South China Morning Post

The last time dredging vessels came to Rupat Island, the Indonesian island’s coast was pillaged for its sea sand, says fisherman Eriyanto, who saw his income shrivel as the seabed – and the ecosystem it shelters – was scooped up for sale.
Now, the 36-year-old from Suka Damai village fears worse is yet to come, after President Joko Widodo last month lifted a 20-year-old ban on sea-sand exports….

Sand Mining (by Sumaira Abdulali, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia).

As sand miners prosper in Uganda, a vital lake basin suffers – AP News

The excavator grunts in the heart of the wetland, baring its teeth. There are trucks waiting to be loaded with sand, and more almost certainly on the way.
This is how it is here daily in Lwera — a central Ugandan region on the fringes of Lake Victoria: a near-constant demand for sand that’s exerting pressure on a wetland that’s home to locals and animals and feeds into Africa’s largest freshwater lake…

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